Though there have been constants throughout the Grand Canyon Music Festival's 24 seasons, each has brought new and sometimes serendipitous offerings. This year is no exception, with new opportunities for music students and an opening weekend exhibit that brings fresh perspective to a familiar piece while honoring some great friends of the festival.
When supporters Gary K. and Jeanne L. Herberger gave the festival two relief sculptures by Arizona artists John and Ruth Waddell, the gift intersected unintentionally with the theme being developed by Trio Solisti for opening night - a performance around Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." Festival co-founder and Creative Director Clare Hoffman saw an opportunity for both a deeper concert experience and a means to honor the Waddells, long-time friends of the Music Festival.
"I thought, 'How perfect to have this tie-in,'" she said. "This ("Pictures at an Exhibition") is music inspired by artwork. Wouldn't it be terrific if we could have a show of their artwork. We've known John and Ruth since the first or second season. They've always had wonderful things to contribute to what we do."
Mussorgsky's masterpiece was inspired by the watercolors and drawings of his friend Viktor Hartmann, who died at age 39.
During the opening weekend, Waddell's human forms will grace the lobby and the stage at the Shrine of the Ages during opening performances by Trio Solisti on Saturday, Sept. 1 and Sunday, Sept. 2. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. both nights.
"This was just one of those ways that things happen," said Hoffman. "Through serendipity there are interesting connections. It will be a wonderful weekend of concerts and visual art as well."
The two donated reliefs will be auctioned to benefit the festival's educational outreach programs, though details haven't been worked out yet, said Hoffman.
While festival artists perform each year at Grand Canyon School, this year for the first time, they will offer a weeklong workshop called School of Rock, that is similar in concept to the NACAP project but for students at Grand Canyon. Though the NACAP focuses on chamber music, as the name implies, this will focus on rock.
The program is being developed by festival regulars violinist Joe Deninzon and guitarist Chris Millitari
Students will attend after school sessions for four days, working with the artists to create original content, which they will share with the community in two performances.
The Grand Canyon Rotary Club and the Lions Club have donated $500 each to the program.
Also, this year, Native American Composers Apprentice Project (NACAP) quartet in residence Ethel will introduce the young composers to members of the Ringtone Society, a group formed in the Holland "that aims to liberate the world of musically banal ringtones."
"It's an interesting concept, the artistic challenges to compose music for ringtones," said Hoffman. "For NACAP we have them write a two-minute piece. That's a lot of music to figure out how to work compositionally.
"A ringtone is an art form," she said. "How do you write a good 30-second piece.that's solid, aesthetically appealing and works functionally as a ringtone? There's a compositional challenge to that."
Saturday, Sept. 1,
7:30 p.m., "Pictures at an Exhibition" with Trio Solisti - Maria Bachmann, violin; Alexis Pia Gerlach, cello; Jon Klibonoff, piano
Sunday, Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m., "Cafe Music" with Trio Solisti and Clare Hoffman
Selections - Piano Trio No. 2 in B minor, Opus 76 (Turina); "Cafe Music" (Paul Schoenfield); "Carmen Rhapsody" (Bizet); Four Seasons (Astor Piazzolla); Hungarian Dances Nos. 1 and 5 (Brahms, arrangement by Maria Bachmann)
Friday, Sept. 7,
7:30 p.m., "Wandering on the Plain" with
The Calder Quartet - Benjamin Jacobson, violin; Andrew Bulbrook, violin; Jonathan Moerschel, viola; Eric Byers, cello
Saturday, Sept. 8, 7:30 p.m.
"Reflection on 132" with The Calder Quartet
Selections - String Quartet #2 in A minor, Opus 13 (Mendelssohn); "Arcadiana" (Thomas Ades); String Quartet in A minor, Opus 132 (Beethoven)
Wednesday, Sept. 12, 7:30 p.m.: The Bonfiglio Group -
Robert Bonfiglio, harmonic; Joe Deninzon, violin, guitar, and mandolin; Chris Milletari, guitar
Friday, Sept. 14: Pre-Concert Recital of Native American Composer Project compositions starting at 6 p.m. Performance, 7:30 p.m. with Ethel - Cornelius DuFallo, violin; Ralph Farris, viola; Dorothy Lawson, cello; Mary Rowell, violin
Saturday, Sept. 15: Pre-Concert Recital of Native American Composer Project compositions starting at 6 p.m. Performance by Ethel, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 16, 3 p.m., A Tusayan Shindig: Free, fun, informal community concert featuring the Bonfiglio Group at Tusayan's Canyon Plaza Quality Inn.